Being Truly Human
In the beginning, God spoke the universe into existence. He commanded the stars and moons to appear, and it was so. Planets formed; Earth made way for living organisms--plants, water, mountains, the ocean waves, and everything in the animal kingdom was spoken into being by the Almighty. Finally, on the sixth day, God crowned His creation by creating human beings with His breath. As He beheld it all, He was deeply pleased and saw that it was “very good” (Genesis 1:31a). He beheld the harmonious uniformity of His creation, teeming with life, beauty, and wonder; however, He delighted more in humans because they are “the peak, the pinnacle, the crown, the apex of [His] earthly creation” (1).
Humankind is distinct from everything that was made. We delight in the beauty and wonder nature displays because it’s the very handiwork of our Creator (Psalm 19:1); we create melodious symphonies and art because we’re echoing the symphonic creativity of God (Genesis 1:1). We have written and spoken languages that mirror the Creator’s awesome voice speaking things into existence and His very breath writing the Holy Scriptures (Hebrews 11:3; 2 Timothy 3:16). We experience deep connections with one another because the Father’s love for us runs deep. Humans can make their own choices, ponder deeply about the mysteries of the universe, construct and evolve languages, establish cultures and customs; and build cities, empires, and kingdoms. These are all by the endowment of God, the true Creator. We bear His reflection. Who we are is an echo of who He is.
To be truly human, to embrace the fullness of our humanity, means to reflect God. When God created us, He said, “let Us make man in Our image after Our likeness; let them fill the earth and subdue it” (Genesis 1:26,27). This is the original design and purpose of humanity—to be image-bearers of the Creator, to reflect all who He is in our way of living, to walk with Him in fellowship “in the cool of the day” as He once did in the Garden (Genesis 3:8), to worship and love Him in holiness (Luke 1:74,75).
So why are humans capable of doing so much evil?
Enter sin: the marring of humanity (Genesis 3)
The result of sin is the defacing, marring, and corrupting image of humankind. It shattered our purpose and marred our God-reflecting image. It brought rebellion and the removal of God in our lives. It perverted what God made good. What we ponder today and constantly ask, “why must this be? Why so much suffering?” Don’t look at God to blame; look at sin, and look at us who voluntarily grasped it.
After Eve and Adam ushered in humanity’s first disobedience, a loaded question was asked: “What have you done?” (Genesis 3:13). God looked on Eve in grievance because she did not realize the magnitude of her sin. “Do you realize what you’ve done, Eve? You defaced your humanity; you’ve marred My image in you.” The question God asked Eve in the Garden in the beginning is still being answered to this day—the weight of sin is constantly being revealed throughout history:
Malice, jealousy, fits of anger, wars, gossip, violence, thievery, sexual immorality, oppression, racism, vulgar and filthy language, inappropriate thoughts, chattel slavery, injustice, adultery, drunkenness, confusion in our identities, hypocrisy, divisions, unbiblical marriages, the list goes on... these are antithetical to what true humanity is and seeks to harm and destroy us (Romans 6:23a; 1 Corinthians 6:6-9; 1 Timothy 1:10; Galatians 5:17, 19-21). This is a reflection of sin, not the Creator.
Sin gives us an empty way of living; it is the rejection of God and rebellion to His laws to live a life of self-indulgence (Romans 8:7,8). It is godless and courts death and anguish to those who embrace it (Romans 6:23a).
Sin dehumanizes. It gives humans the potential to become “monstrous” (2). When a person gives themself to wickedness and harms another human, there is a consensus belief that that person has no humanity within them for doing an unthinkable. This thought process is the inadvertent advancement that we have been created not for evil but for good—to be reflectors of God. “To err is human,” so the saying goes. But to err is sin; to be truly human is to live life in the imago Dei. This isn’t to say our image has been destroyed by sin (we are still capable of displaying His likeness), but it makes it difficult for us to fully embrace who we’re meant to be and it causes us to be separated from God who is our Life.
Despite sin attempting to destroy the crowning glory of God’s creation, God continues to pour out His goodness in our midst—in suffering we can find comfort, in the darkness Light can shine forth, in pain there can be healing, in chaos and disaster peace is made known. More importantly, He poured out ultimate goodness by coming down here as a human to deliver and restore us to our original purpose.
“What sin unraveled in the Garden, Christ restored on the cross” (3).
Enter Christ: the Restorer of humanity (Ephesians 2:14-16)
As the Lord hung on the cross, He uttered three final words before breathing His last, “it is finished” (John 19:30); three days later, He rose from the dead. All that Christ came to do He accomplished: He brought humankind renewal and restoration by His gruesome crucifixion and glorious resurrection.
Jesus’ death on the cross bridged the gap of separation between God and humankind, this is our reconciliation; His resurrection gives us new life and freedom from sin, this is our restoration (Romans 5:10). The unique aspect of Jesus’ resurrection is more than just a rising from the dead—He is alive forevermore because He defeated death. His victorious resurrection swallowed it and dismantled its power (1 Corinthians 15:54-57; Revelation 1:18). All who desire to leave sin, become united with Him, and experience the power of His resurrection through a full-body immersion in water are placed “in Christ” (Romans 6:1-9). As a result, “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, and behold, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17, CSB). The sinful way of living is removed, the Spirit-filled way is given.
Living a new life free in Christ and governed by His Spirit returns us to our original identity; our new way of living consists of love, joy, forgiveness, peace, wholesome speech, sobriety, holiness, kindness, gentleness, patience, humility, reverence, compassion, justice, faithfulness, unity, and a striving to keep our old selves dead (Colossians 3:10, 12-14; Ephesians 4:20-24; Galatians 5:22-25). Such is the renewed way given by Him which courts life and peace (Romans 8:6b). So when we embrace Jesus and live a Spirit-filled life we are embracing what it means to be restored to the Creator’s divine intention of being truly human, and that is being His image-bearers.
Defending the Faith Study Bible, Apologetics Press, Inc., 2019, p.19
Wright, N. T., Following Jesus: Biblical Reflections on Discipleship, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1994. eBook Collection (Hoopla Digital).
CSB She Reads Truth Bible, She Reads Truth, 2017, p.1727